IHBC welcomes MPs report on building to net zero
The IHBC has welcomed the publication by Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of ‘Building to net zero: Costing carbon in construction’, as MPs confirm that ‘Retrofit and reuse of buildings, keeping the carbon locked in, should be prioritised over new build’.
The EAC writes: 'From residential to commercial buildings, the UK’s built environment is responsible for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) warns that to date there has been a lack of Government impetus or policy levers to assess and reduce these emissions. With climate deadlines looming, urgent action is needed.'
To reduce the levels of CO2 in construction, for instance when using cement and steel, EAC recommends that the Government introduce a mandatory requirement for whole-life carbon assessments for buildings. This requirement should be fully incorporated in building regulations and the planning system. Such an assessment would calculate the emissions from the construction, maintenance and demolition of a building, and from the energy used in its day-to-day operation. The UK is currently lagging behind countries such as The Netherlands and France which have established mandatory whole-life carbon assessments for their built environment.
Once these assessments are in place, the Government should develop carbon targets for buildings to align with the UK’s net zero goals. A clear timeframe for introducing whole-life carbon assessments, and ratcheting targets, should be set by the Government by the end of 2022 at the latest, and they should be introduced not later than December 2023.
Retrofit and reuse of buildings, keeping the carbon locked in, should be prioritised over new build. While the Government states it is prioritising retrofit and reuse, the Committee is concerned that reforms to permitted development rights appear to have created an incentive for demolition and new-build over retrofit. The Government must therefore urgently evaluate the impact of recent reforms to ensure that retrofit and reuse are prioritised.
Where retrofit is not possible, EAC recommends efficient and more effective use of low-carbon building materials. The Government’s investment in the development of low-carbon cements is welcome, and mandating whole-life carbon assessments for buildings could encourage the use of more recycled steel and other recycled building materials. EAC recognises the potential of timber as a low-carbon construction material, though the Committee identified significant hurdles to its wider use, such as appropriate sourcing, enhanced tree planting and a current skills gap in timber use in construction.
As EAC has identified in previous reports, the UK is facing a chronic skills gap in energy efficiency and retrofit. Without these vital green skills in the UK economy, net zero ambitions will fall flat. EAC is therefore reiterating its previous recommendation that a retrofit strategy and up-skilling programme be developed and published. In addition, EAC recommends that training in undertaking whole-life carbon assessments is made accessible through the education system.
“From homes to offices, retail units to hospitality venues, our buildings have a significant amount of locked-in carbon, which is wasted each time they get knocked down to be rebuilt, a process which produces yet more emissions.
“Ministers must address this urgently. Promising steps are being taken: for instance, the Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities Secretary of State recently paused the demolition and retrofit of Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street on environmental grounds.
“But much more needs to be done, and baseline standards for action need to be established. Mandatory whole-life carbon assessments, and targets to crack down on embodied carbon, provide part of the answer. Constructors and developers can then determine which low-carbon materials, such as timber and recycled steel, they can use.
“As in many other areas in the drive to net zero, the UK must have the green skills to make its low carbon future a reality. Before the summer recess in July, I urge the Government to publish a retrofit strategy and upskilling programme that can ensure the UK economy will have the green jobs necessary to deliver a low-carbon built environment.”…
- Read more….
- Download the report
- Inquiry: Sustainability of the built environment
- Environmental Audit Committee
This article appears on the IHBC news and blog site entitled 'IHBC welcomes MPs report on Building to Net Zero: Reuse first!' dated May 27.
- Achieving net zero in social housing.
- Actuate UK issues climate warning and urges action.
- Aligning net zero with the levelling-up agenda.
- A zero-carbon UK by 2050?
- Carbon footprint.
- Carbon negative.
- Carbon neutral.
- Climate Change Act.
- Construction skills crisis threatens UK net zero goals.
- CO2nstruct Zero programme grows to over 70 businesses.
- Fabric first investigation into net zero for existing buildings.
- Half of public sector bodies not planning for net zero carbon.
- Heat pumps and heat waves: How overheating complicates ending gas in the UK.
- Infrastructure carbon reduction misses net-zero target.
- Low or zero carbon technologies.
- LETI publishes Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide.
- Making Mission Possible: report on achieving a zero-carbon economy by 2030.
- Nearly zero-energy building.
- Net Zero All Party Parliamentary Group NZ APPG.
- Net zero by 2050.
- Net zero (whole life) carbon.
- Net zero carbon building.
- Net zero carbon emissions.
- Net zero strategy: build back greener.
- Planning the infrastructure transition to net-zero.
- Scotland publishes plans to reach net zero targets with Heat in Buildings Strategy.
- Skilled workforce unable to meet net zero ambitions.
- Smoothing the path to net zero.
- Thermal imaging of the building fabric in the net zero world.
- Transform to Net Zero.
The Heritage Sector Resilience Plan, developed by the Historic Environment Forum (HEF) with the support of Historic England, has been launched.
An ‘All-Island’ commitment to Ireland’s vernacular heritage has been established with the signing of the North South Agreement on Vernacular Heritage, supporting traditional buildings etc.
Canons House, a landmark building on Bristol Harbourside, has been awarded Grade II (GII) listed status having been built as a regional headquarters for Lloyds Bank between 1988 and 1991 (Arup)
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has announced a new project with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to improve and modernise the home energy rating scheme used to measure the energy and environmental performance of UK homes.
Sector lead the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) has recognised the IHBC’s professional accreditation and support (CPD etc.) in awarding its PQP (Professionally Qualified Person) cards.
The IHBC’s 2022 Aberdeen School Heritage MarketPlace (4.30-7.30PM, 15 June) is designed to extend the scope of a traditional IHBC School exhibition floor.
Work to repair a fire-hit medieval hotel in Gloucester is underway as crews have started work to strip back some of the modern trappings and reveal the historic framework.
Options for in-person and virtual delegates to explore ‘heritage on the edge’ across up to 4 days of IHBC engagement & learning.
The Secretariat to the European Heritage Heads Forum has has coordinated its declaration of solidarity and support for Ukraine’s cultural heritage institutions.
2022 will see the IHBC mark a quarter of a century since our incorporation as a professional body supporting and accrediting built and historic environment conservation specialists. We’re kick-starting it by inviting your ideas on how to mark this special year!